STI Friday

STI Friday’s guest of honour today is Syphilis.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can only live in the mucus membranes in the human body. So mouth, vagina, anus and penis. This feisty little bacteria get in through any tiny tears you may have in these areas, and multiply once they are inside.

The infection will most likely manifest on your body within 2 to 6 weeks, but it can be as long as 3 months. There are 3 stages of Syphilis, the first is a small sore, red’ish brown in colour. They will appear on any of the above mentioned locations… The correct name for these is chancre, pronounced ‘shank-ker’. It has a raised edge that is quite hard and a sunken middle part. Most people will have no discomfort at all. It will go away by its self, even if you fail to visit your Doctor. You are going to pass this infection onto anybody you are intimate with though.

sj.bdj.2012.420-f2[1] This infection is on the tongue, the chancre will look similar on the genitals.

Three to six weeks after the sore has healed, you enter the second stage of syphilis infection. This is where it starts to get really ugly! It will now begin to invade your central nervous system… oh joy! A rash will ensue, if it happens to spread to your head you may also incur hair loss. You may also develop wart’ish out breaks on the part that was originally infected. Your lymph glands will be up and tender by now. Other symptoms are similar to the flu.

The third and final stage of a syphilis infection is it actually seems to go away! You will feel quite fine. You are still infections for about 12 months though. If you still have not seen a doctor and think you have been saved… think again. The infection is now going to start affecting your psychological and neurological areas, and disrupt sensory and muscular systems, eventually this is fatal.

So, if you get a sore around your genitals or mouth and are sexually active, go and get it tested, the embarrassment you may feel about this private visit to the doctor could save your life and that of anyone else you may have sex with. We don’t hear about Syphilis as much now as we did 50 years ago, but don’t be fooled… this nasty little piece of work is a quiet achiever in it’s field. It is still very active in some circles, and if you enjoy ‘bumping uglies’ with someone different now and then you are at risk!

In Sex, Love and Pleasure